- Have an idea
- Are you the only one doing it?
- Test, test, test
This class is for people serious about taking action to achieve their goals.
This class is for people serious about taking action to achieve their goals.
by Shane Barbanel
A retail endeavor that does not take stock of itself – an inventory – is a fool’s dream that will eventually fail.
To prevent the failure, or alter the trajectory of your startup’s downward spiral — taking an Inventory is a MUST!
I’ve done it by the way, barreling headlong into oblivion building a business, growing it fast, but not really looking at the balance sheet, just shooting upward, and building without knowing. Believing that by working hard enough, and keeping the business moving forward, I could look at the Debits and Credits later, after we were really built. Big mistake! It’s so important to grow the business, and it’s equally as important to objectify what is working and really, what’s not working so we can assemble a better more effective machine.
To use a retail model: What is selling and what’s not, which items are gathering dust? Are they perishable? If so how much time before that product is a complete loss? Should you drop it, lower the price or reposition it?
If it’s selling then why? Can we sell more? How do we duplicate this with other products?
What strategies work best for foot traffic? How do we get more customers in? Why do the customers we have today stop in? Is it time of day? Lighting, HVAC, or the configuration of the isles? And more importantly: what & why did they buy?
What is that one service, amenity, product or offering that your customer MUST Have! What is it?? Also, what is it on your menu that does not move? (I think I’ve stressed this enough;-)
Also, what question is it you are answering? What’s the problem you are solving for your members or customers? Can you pinpoint the solution you provide? If so then it’s a hop, skip and a jump to massaging that issue out of your prospects. But you cannot do this without clarity, and clarity comes from the inventory.
Now let’s break it down:
What is the best seller?
Why is it selling?
Who is buying it?
Taste, look, feel?
How do we duplicate this?
How do we improve?
What is it on your shelf that is sitting there costing you money?
Why is it not selling?
Is it inferior?
Can we reposition / remarket / drop price & alter the current condition?
All businesses must put themselves through the same set of questions – of course adjusting them for your speciality – but ask yourself direct questions, be honest and open minded to change. Do Not Get Married to a product, service, amenity or whatever you sell, don’t do it! That is at the most business death and at the least a painful endeavour. Be open to hearing about your children in unflattering ways, but then Use This information to improve your overall position in the marketplace and to achieve more peace within your company, because with honest stock taking comes clear communication and a more focused cohesive team.
If you would like to know how we conduct our staff meetings at the CoLab-factory just ask we’ll tell ya!
By Edward Denegre
“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it”. ~Olin Miller
Having a full day ahead should be a great feeling. However, if you’re not careful, the hours can slip away. It’s important to stay organized, keep track of hours from when you open your eyes and have the first coffee to when you put your head down at night. Here are some tips to maintain control of your time.
by Taylor Fogarty
Holidays in New York are perhaps one of the best times to be a New Yorker, but also one of the most stressful. Traveling, cooking, and dealing with in laws can make Thanksgiving feel more daunting than dandy. You work hard all year, so make the most of some time off!
Thankfully, the city has much to offer if you are looking for something out of the ordinary to do to celebrate turkey day:
From feeding the needy at your local soup kitchen or wrapping presents at the nearest hospital, the opportunities are endless. Check out this guide to all the volunteer openings in the city.
Host a friendsgiving
Host a potluck style dinner with all your friends that are keeping it local this holiday. Assign a course to each person, and don’t forget that wine counts as a course.
Replace your recipes for a reservation
Let someone else do the cooking! Check out this list of affordable restaurant options for Thanksgiving day.
Check out the parade
Stick to tradition and head uptown to watch the parade! Bonus points if you can watch it from your friend’s apartment.
It is a holiday after all…why not treat yourself to some turkey sandwiches via Seamless in bed?! We won’t judge.
What’s your favorite tradition around the holidays? Let us know in the comments!
by Edward Denegre
The expression “you are your own worst enemy” is something you hear throughout your whole life, in reference to yourself and others. The expression isn’t wrong, most of the time. Everyone has potential and most are held back by self-doubt and saboteur thoughts.
Saboteur thoughts are the voices that say “you wouldn’t be good at that” or “that job would never hire you.” Treat them like a backseat driver telling you to run a red light. Instead of listening to them, do the opposite.
The problem with “you are your own worst enemy” comes from the negative framing of the words. How often do you hear the opposite? “You hold the key to your own success.” Anyone can restrict themselves from working hard and making money. Anyone can also set up routines that increase productivity dramatically or in small bits. Here are some ways to increase your work output:
What’s your best productivity trick? Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below!
*originally posted on New York Natives
YOU NEED PERSEVERANCE
I want to talk to you about one item that seems to get glossed over a lot in business books, marketing media, and self help tweets: Perseverance.
Everyone seems to make building a startup more akin to a rocket ship exploding forward than a ship setting sail, moving ever so (seemingly) slowly to the horizon.
And so starts the mini history lesson. Yes, there were unicorns—aka, startup companies valued at $1 billion dollars or more. Yes, there still are unicorns: Uber, WeWork, Snapchat, Pinterest, Spotify, Slack, DraftKings, Instacart, and Lazada Group, to name a few of techcrunch.com’s class of 2016.
That’s a billion dollar valuation; a billion dollars is a LOT of money!
How do you get there? How does anyone get anywhere? Move. Move with a plan, and move with purpose. Otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels, my friend. But I’m not talking to you about how to make a billion dollars; that would be bullshit because I’ve never made a billion dollars myself. But I’ve made business happen–sold buildings, closed leases, opened more than a few companies, written, directed, and produced a movie, and am most recently the founder of the CoLab-Factory, a killer coworking space in downtown Brooklyn where pirates and ninjas work.
So here’s where I tell you about that inspiration moment…that instant where an idea (for me) was born. I was leasing a store on the Fulton Mall and this guy asked about space for an incubator (which, at the time, I thought was a container for protecting a premature newborn from the environment–remember this was 2011, after all). I started to laugh (because I was a bit of a dick), but before I could say anything he described the modern day definition. In truth, the definition is really not far from the medical definition—the “newborn” in this case is just a startup, unable to stand, breathe, talk, walk or work on its own.
I fell in love with this idea immediately, and wanted to be involved with this movement right away! I went to WeWork, and checked out General Assembly, among others, and realized that downtown Brooklyn was a perfect fit! In fact, I believed it would help the kids FROM Brooklyn to have another avenue. It would be a place for the graduates from LIU, Berkley, Brooklyn Tech, St. Francis, and Poly to have a place to graduate into—a startup community environment of doers generating action and innovation!
YOU NEED A BUSINESS PLAN
The beginning of our co-working startup story starts with the meaning of perseverance in Brooklyn and I’ve set the example here in my first post.
The story picks up in 2016, that’s how long I stuck it out just to sign the lease on a space and begin build out! We are talking perseverance and patience. We are talking about landlords who had no idea what co-working or incubating was, asking about my idea and not believing. We are talking about broken promises, cancelled agreements, and stalled work. Crazy. But still I am determined and passionate about downtown Brooklyn.
So what do you do? How do you get there?
Now we are in the before Launch Party — before your opening day — and, to a very great degree, the after, and the quality you require for it; the perseverance, the stick-to-it-ness, the dogged determination, because this is not the exciting stuff you read about online. It’s not the exciting, shiny launch party with DJ’s and kegs. It’s the instinct and desire to be located in downtown Brooklyn, because no competitors are there, and downtown Brooklyn rocks! It’s the planning meetings (and more planning meetings), the models (the financial kind, not the short-dressed leggy kind), and business plans.
Let’s talk about the business plan.
I absolutely hate writing a business plan.
Why? Because writing is, as a wise man once said, rewriting, and business plans don’t write themselves. They require data and information — in other words, the “meat and bones” of what will become your business (not, however, the spirit of the thing — that is you, my friend). No, we are talking about numbers, plans, charts, graphs, examples, income, expense, gross income, net income, projections, break-even points, and the all-important ROI.
Sound exciting? I almost fell asleep in the middle of the word “projections,” but it is one of the most important documents you will produce. It’s the North Star that keeps your ship going, and it’s also a living document. As your startup becomes a business, you will need to bob and weave as market conditions and/or competitors throw punches. But remember you are Brooklyn, and you’re not afraid.
Perhaps a monster competitor enters the market eating up customers and changing expectations of the consumer. Perhaps the unemployment rate shoots up. How do you react? Before you do, you have a plan — a business plan to be exact. Look at it, and if you and your team prepared a solid document, you can use it to adjust your trajectory.
It’s not a magic pill; make no mistake, the magic pill is you. Still, the plans are important. They are tedious and maddening at times, but necessary.
Football players have a playbook, actors a script, dancers their choreography, and you the business plan.
HOW YOU WORK IS EVERYTHING
If you’re in an office like me, then you’re surrounded by architects, engineers, and designers — so very important because at this point in our story, I needed to imagine how my customer would react to a chair, a stool, or a couch.
What kind of light would be welcoming? Can I use existing fixtures? What materials bounce sound as opposed to swallowing it? What kind of coffee will be the best? How much does it cost? Do we use tap water? Or do we use filtered water, and if so which company?
As you’re mulling over which stool is the most comfortable, arguing grommets with your designer, looking at projectors for the classroom (it’s HD, by the way), and figuring out how to provide secure entry doors, the market changes. Someone comes along, and before you know it, opens up a similar offering nearby — not once, but twic — right down the block!
What do you do? Do you go home and cry? Perhaps you fall into a dark, all consuming depression that Sigmund Freud himself would need a winch and tractor to pull you out of.
Welcome to my life, before we even started construction — and it did absolutely destroy me (this happens a lot). I went dark for a bit, and then came the light. And what I mean by light is inspiration. I realized that these competitors were proving my thesis; that they were showing, testing, and running my idea in real time, and it worked! It’s nice to know you are right, even if it’s someone else proving your point. What happened when I shifted my perception is that I realized they’d help me better define my USP (unique selling proposition). I am sharpening my sword, focusing my game, and coming like a freight train, as serious as a heart attack. Yes, Brooklyn and I were made for each other.
At the end of February we had an awesome launch party, but it was tough. Why? It rained. It’s that simple — it rained! You see, New Yorkers are the laziest busy people you’ve ever met, and while we will go anywhere, and do anything…we won’t do a thing if it rains. And not only did it rain, but it was also the same night as a zillion Black History Month events. Awesome.
So we had friends and family, but the party took place in a social padded room. These things happen. We pick up and move forward, finding opportunities as other players use their considerable financial might to carpet bomb Brooklyn. Depressing, but not for long.
I realized that where these guys were oil tankers, we were corvettes. Where they were the Klitchko Brothers, we were Mohammed Ali — their power and influence focused our game.
We are education. We are a cooperative of doers, movers, workers, and generators. We are the pirates, the ninjas — we are co-working gangsters, my friends. To co-work with us means you are building your dream, because that’s what we are doing. We expect you to come here with your “A” game — your startup idea. Bring it, because we are the factory where bright ideas turn into shining reality.
We are not music playing, foosball tables, and kegs. We are CoLab-Factory University, we are CoLab-Factory Events, we are CoLab-Factory Art, Music, and yes, we are most certainly CoLab-Factory Hustle, because what could be more Brooklyn than a great deal? An underdog story
That’s us. We are not laying down on the job or watching the paint dry. We are on fire to bring the best experience possible, but we wouldn’t be able to do any of it without our business plan to guide us, and the perseverance, stick with it, and “don’t give up, kid.”
We are in your corner, or you could just come here and be in ours.
Before I blog about the exciting news that Propel secured 1.15M in seed funding, which is fantastic! I would like to share a quote from the Founder, Jimmy Chen:
“We are so excited for this opportunity to build a massive and innovative business that will fundamentally transform the face of social services in America.
What does this tell you about the character of Jimmy Chen?
It tells me this man is focused and directed fully on his mission: To build software for low-income Americans who are often overlooked by traditional tech innovation. The focus of their energy? Food Stamps.